Market Finds

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Atlanta Jewish Film Festival: Jerusalem on a Plate

I love when an unexpected opportunity arises.  I had one of these moments last week, when new friend and Cancer Wellness participant, Helen Stern, invited Chef Nancy and me to the North American screening of Jerusalem on a Plate.  The film was brought to this country as part of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.

The film is presented by Yotam Ottolenghi, an Israeli-born chef, who currently works and resides in London.  Mr. Ottolenghi is also the co-author of the beautiful cookbook, Jerusalem, pictured to the right.

My only complaint about this movie was that it was far too short.  The vivid scenery, cultural stories and spectacular food, made me wish that I could jump through the screen and join Mr. Ottolenghi on his journey through this fascinating city.

Throughout the movie, I was mentally taking notes as to what dishes and techniques I could bring to my own kitchen.  The one visual that stood out to me the most, was a deconstructed baba-ganoush.  I tried this eggplant dish for the first time almost exactly one year ago, and since then have been on a mission to taste baba-ganoush whenever it appears on a menu.  Thus, after viewing this film, I thought I would experiment with my own version of the recipe,  while incorporating the visual presentation I enjoyed in the film.  I encourage you to take a look at this beautiful cookbook next time you are in your local bookstore, and by all means if you ever have the opportunity to see this film, do not pass it up.

Baba Ganoush:

2 large globe eggplants, or about 20 small Italian or baby eggplants.  You will need about 4 cups of cooked flesh.
4 garlic gloves, chopped
1 tablespoon tahini
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for garnish
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

Optional Garnishes:
Sesame seeds
Extra-virgin olive oil
Charred baby eggplant*

Step One:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use a fork to poke several holes into the skin of eggplant and place on a sprayed, foil-lined baking sheet. Or if using smaller eggplants, cut off the stem of each eggplant and place on a sprayed, foil-lined sheet pan. Bake 35-40 minutes or until inside flesh is nice and soft. Once the eggplants have cooked, remove from oven and set aside until they are cool enough to handle.

Roasted Italian and Baby Eggplant

Step Two:
Scoop flesh from the eggplant with a spoon and place in a food processor.  Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and pulse until you have a smooth puree.

Remove mixture from food processor to a serving tray or bowl and sprinkle with desired garnishes. Serve with pita chips or crudite.

For the Optional Garnish of Charred Baby Eggplant:

Place eggplant over an open flame on a gas stovetop or underneath your broiler, turning often until flesh is blackened.  Once cooled, hold eggplant by the stem and gently scrape off the charred flesh with a small, knife.  Make sure to leave as much of the flesh as possible intact.

Place the peeled eggplant on top of your plated dip and spread the flesh with the back of a fork to create a base so that the stem end will stand up straight.

Finished presentation, inspired by the decondtructed baba-ganoush in Jerusalem on a Plate
I hope you will try this exotic dip and remember to make every plate something to be passionate about.  Cheers!

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